Perenlaantje at Hendrik Ido Ambacht
One of a Kind
The Pear Lane (Dutch: ‘Perenlaantje’) is a berceau of trained pear trees which has been restorered to its former glory. This natural tunnel is the longest in Europe with two rows of trees each 550 m long and dates back to 1920. The metal arch construction of Perenlaantje has been completely restored and bad trees have been replaced by new plantings. It’s somewhat hidden, but freely accessible.
The Netherlands counts four foliage corridors (berceaus) with pears. The walkway in Hendrik Ido Ambacht is the longest one, stretching 550 (!) meters and counting 1100 trees. Standing at the beginning, that’s an impressive walk. It’s quite a unique experience, since within all of Europe you won’t find a longer fruit tree berceau.
The pear berceau is enclosed by a green nature reserve. Halfway there’s a natural pond attracting birds. Most deciduous trees have been replaced with new plantings. On the northeast side the majority consists of old fruit trees, planted in 1920. Tree trunks are up to 15 cm thick and tree bark has aged grooves of up to 1 cm deep.
The pear berceau recalls the heyday of fruit growing in the region. Originally former fruit grower Speelman had built a narrow-gauge railroad under the foliage corridor. It was used for transportation of crates filled with harvested fruit by trolley.
During my visit another visitor, a somewhat older man, explained that in earlier times the foliage corridor was often used by churchgoers on Sundays. After all, using a car on Sundays wasn’t allowed by church back then. Walking the Pear Lane saved them a detour by bicycle. The church is still present, on the northeast side of the berceau.
Restoration of the Berceau
The metal structure, comprising galvanized T-profiles and strips of flat steel, has been completely renewed. Each arch consists of 2 T-profiles, inserted in the soil 4 meters apart. The T-profiles protrude approximately 180 cm above ground level. At that point an arc-shaped T-profile (semicircle) is screwed to the ends of the T-profiles (with pieces of flat steel as a connector).
Each of the 140 arches is screwed together at three points: on both sides of the foliage aisle (at a height of 180 cm) and at the very top of the ridge. Flat metal pieces are used as connectors. Every now and then a cross brace is used for stability.
The distance between 2 arc elements changes somewhat, emphasizing the handcrafted nature. As a result the number of trees between 2 arch elements varies from 3 to 6. Planting distance is about 50 cm.
Pear is a cross-pollinating crop, meaning you need to plant multiple varieties for good fruit set. During renovation old standard pear varieties have been replanted, such as: ‘Conference’, ‘Triomphe de Vienne’ and ‘Bonne Louise d’Avranches’. These cultivars were also grown in the Netherlands in earlier times.
Selecting appropriate fruit tree varieties for a berceau is a careful process, which is easily overlooked by visitors. You should know not every tree is suitable as an espalier. For instance, they need to have moderate vigour and have to set fruit on short lateral wood. To mention a few cultivars, and to illustrate the selection criteria involved:
- ‘Bonne Louise d’ Avranches‘ is a small, slender serving pear, green with a nice blush. The ripening period is mid-September. This cultivar produces good quality fruits, with a mildly sour taste and good aroma. It’s considered one of the finest eating pears, yet it is also suitable as a cooking pear or pastry pear. As a stewed pear, the pear naturally turns white-yellow to yellow (not red). The tree requires a sheltered location which isn’t too dry. It’s less susceptible to diseases on quince rootstock.
- ‘Conference‘ grows in almost any soil type. Naturally it grows very healthy (little susceptible to diseases) and produces good fruiting every year. This eating pear is also suitable as a cooking pear (turning white-yellow to yellow during cooking). Flowers are partly self-pollinating. Since it’s a vigourous type it requires a lot of pruning (thinning) and the fruits are somewhat sensitive to rust.
- ‘Triomphe de Vienne‘ can produce high yields, but the yield can fluctuate from one year to the next. This cultivar is easy to grow (prune). This serving pear is also suitable for stewing, but won’t get a desirable red colour during cooking. Compared to other varieties, it is very susceptible to Pear Fire, a contagious bacterial disease. For optimal flavour and aroma fruits should not be harvested too early.
Every year in August, picking days are organized for local residents at De Volgerlanden district.
You could use an eating pear as a cooking pear. In that case it’s best to harvest the fruit a little early, because ripe (soft) pears easily disintegrate during cooking.
I visited the berceau multiple times during the seasons. During one of my visits during blossom (early May) on an ordinary busines day I ran into 5 other visitors. Not something I would expect for such a hidden gem.
The berceau is at its best at the beginning of May (during flowering, which lasts a few weeks) and in August (just before pear harvest). The Perenlaantje is freely accessible; you can enter the berceau through a gate of fence on either side.
The berceau with its nearby church could well become an idyllic wedding location or a popular location for a photo shoot. Especially for those with ‘roots’ in fruit cultivation.
The municipality of Hendrik Ido Ambacht has acquired the berceau as a special cultural-historical heritage, with the intention of including it as a walking route through Vinex district De Volgerlanden. Initially there were plans to include Perenlaantje in a golf course. Later on, the municipality decided to use the area for housing. Around 3,000 more homes will be built around the pear berceau. At the time of writing it is unclear whether the berceau can then be preserved.
Route and Accessibility
crossroads of Perenlaantje / Vrouwgelenweg
3344 HA Hendrik Ido Ambacht
South Holland province
The pear lane ‘Perenlaantje’ is located in the eastern part of Vinex district De Volgerlanden in Hendrik Ido Ambacht, connecting the Vrouwgelenweg and the Veersedijk. Be aware part of the Perenlaantje is built with houses; the berceau is situated on the opposite side of Vrouwgelenweg. The berceau is accessible from both ends: via the north-east side (Perenlaantje) and via the south-west side (Laan van Welhorst).
The Perenlaantje is easy to find with car navigation or route planner. On the northeast side, it is close to the De Volgerlanden Health Center (‘Gezondheidscentrum’), which is indicated by signs along the road. Walk through the built-up end of Perenlaantje, go straight across the intersection with Vrouwgelenweg and walk over a small footbridge over a ditch. Next, a path of wood chips will lead you to the berceau after 75 meters further on.
If you arrive from the southwest side, you can already see the berceau from Laan van Welhorst.
Opening Hours & Admission Prices
- < li> On a sunny day at the beginning of
- , during the blossom, the berceau is at its best.
July / August
- the trees are full of pears. < / li>
- Het Perenlaantje is an idyllic location; very suitable for a romantic bridal reportage . Especially for people with roots in fruit growing!
Pear Lane Ursulin Garden
In the Ursulin garden of Sittard (province of Limburg) there is a another berceau of pear trees, several dozen meters long. This berceau was built around 1910 by the sisters of Ursuline Monastery and originally had 6 pear cultivars. Over the years some of the fruit trees have been replanted.
Since 1993, this lane has been part of a public city garden. In 2015, the Perenlaantje was awarded “Fruit Tree of the Year” by society Pomologisch Genootschap Limburg.